1963 Lincoln Continental Convertible Sedan
A design first fielded in model year 1961, the '63 Lincoln Continental convertible sedan closed out a 3-year production run of one of the most stylish and elegant automobiles built in America and the country's first 4-door ragtop since the 1951 Frazer Manhattan. The convertible sedan was the first such car Lincoln had built since 1939, and the only production four-door convertible available in the world at the time. Lincoln rolled out the country's last convertible sedan, based on this earlier design, with their 1967 lineup.
Along with the thin-pillar four-door sedan, both cars rode on a 123-inch wheelbase and featured a '30s throwback in rear-hinged "suicide" doors. With its classic beauty and superb engineering, the new Continentals were soon seen in newspaper and magazine photos as the new First Family's transport of choice - both personal and official - which is why these cars have since become known in some quarters as the "Kennedy Lincolns".
The chiseled good looks of the cars reflected the efforts of seven Ford stylists who were collectively honored with the annual award from the Industrial Design Institute in June 1961 for their 'outstanding contribution of simplicity and design elegance'. Smooth, gently curved bodysides topped by straight-through fenderlines edged in bright polished metal; a modest grille with outboard horizontal quad headlamps; a simple tail with the back panel repeating the grille texture and taillamps set in the trailing edges of the fenders. Side windows that curved inward toward the roof were a first for regular production coming out of Detroit. Storage of the top was unique; the convertible top slid completely out of view beneath the deck lid with the help of eleven relays that connected to a network of mechanical and hydraulic linkages.
Aside from styling, these Lincolns were renowned for construction quality with the most rigid unit body and chassis ever mass-produced, the best sound insulation and shock damping in existence, extremely close machining tolerances for all its mechanical components, a completely sealed electrical system and an unprecedented number of long-life service components. Continentals also received the most thorough product testing yet applied by Detroit and as proof of its invulnerability, Lincoln offered a two-year, 24,000-mile warranty, at the time unprecedented. Styling changes from the '61 for both '62 and then '63 were minimal since Lincoln had declared its intention to make improvements only for function while their sales brochure proclaimed that 'the Continental was deliberately designed to be the first American car that cannot be outdated by the calendar'.
Of the 3,138 convertible sedans built for 1963, it is widely felt that only a few hundred still exist. Like FilmCars' only other convertible sedan - the 1939 Buick Sport Phaeton model 41C and the 1949 Kaiser Deluxe convertible sedan model 74A remains a testament to the automotive industry and as a reminder of the greater variety of automobiles offered to the American public several decades ago.